Kitchen-units: Design ideas, inspiration & pictures

How to install kitchen units?

Assess the walls of your kitchen. It would work in your favour to tape down old newspapers on to all surfaces you aren't going to be working with. This will cut down on your cleaning at the end.

- Begin by plotting the layout of the units. Do a mock design on paper, or have you and your assistant hold up the cupboards to envisage where each unit should go.

- It is critical when you are layout where the units should go against the wall, that the bottom cupboards do not touch the ground, but are elevated to make allowance for a ‘kick board’ to be added for the base of the cupboards. Not only will the kick board make the carpentry look more professional, it is functional in that the bottom cupboards will not be grating against the kitchen floors.

- Trace an outline of the cupboard on the wall, paying close attention to where you will be securing the cupboards to the wall, particularly the holes you will be drilling. This is where the spirit level comes in; its purpose is to ensure the straight and level installation of the unit on the wall.

- Having determined where your drill holes will be, begin the drilling process by carefully drilling each hole straight into the wall. Blow out any cement dust that is created by the drill, and insert wall plugs into all holes. Push wall plugs into the holes you’ve drilled, and insert the screws thereafter. Ensure that you have enough screws to secure the cupboard to the wall, so that the entire frame is securely attached to the wall. This has the added benefit of evening out the weight of the unit so it is able to support the doors and kitchen ware housed in the cupboard. 

-Having successfully mounted the first cupboard, align the adjacent cabinet, and before you fix it to the wall, ensure that there is sufficient space for the doors and pulling trays to function with ease. 

At all times, guarantee safety first. Whether it is water pipes or electrical cords, trace these utilities throughout the walls, ceilings and floors of the rooms in which you are working. If none exist, make allowance for plumbing and electrical by using an insulated pipe as a mock up by creating holes for any cabling or pipes.

Types of kitchen units

The main differentiator in kitchen cupboards is the material from which the frame and doors are made. Advice from professional kitchen planners should be included in your kitchen design choices, and a select few offer free quotations on assessments of which design and material best serves your purposes and budget.


Wooden kitchen cupboards have for the longest time been the most desirable (and expensive) choice. Cost depends on the rarity, popularity and process involved in sourcing the wood. Where you live also determines the material’s availability. Some countries may need to import certain wood, and this impact heavily on its pricing. 

For example:

- Red Oak is durable, but affordable if you have adequate budget.

- White Oak is stronger than Red Oak, and you pay extra for that strength.

- Hard Maple is a lighter wood that is in the price range of Red Wood.

- Hickory had a natural look to it, and is similar to Oak, but lighter.

- Cherry Wood is quite resilient to ware and its hue deepens with time.

- Birch, although durable is expensive.

- Ash is strong and favoured for its light shade.

- Pine is the least durable but cheap.

- Mahogany string, and it’s red tone can be stained to the darkens of your choice,

- Walnut has a rich, dark-brown colour but is expensive.

- Ebony is the darkest of the wood, but costly.


In a process of heat compressing layers of sheet material until a hardened structure is formed and encased in a string plastic coating, laminate is the most durable and cost-effective material from which furniture is made. Although it repels stain, it unfortunately has to be replaced if damaged, as it cannot be repaired.

Stainless Steel

There has been an increase in the use of cupboards made from stainless steel. It’s new age, futuristic look is sleek and stylish, and comes with a hefty price tag. Stainless steel is environmentally sound, in that it is known to be hygienic and non-toxic, but requires constant attention in it being susceptible to scratches, and shows dust and fingerprints far too often.

Which kitchen units are right for me?

There’s no point in saving money by doing the installation yourself only to invest your hard-earned cash in a unit that won’t stand the test of time. Factors to consider in selecting kitchen units are:

- Cost: To have an idea of the cost of kitchen units, shop around for the best price. Consider ready-made units as opposed to custom-designed cupboards; only spend more if you’re working with a difficult space that requires made-to-order shelving and doors.

- Durability: Know where and when to save. Don’t compromise on the key components of the assembly process; the screws and glue should be strong and be able to support the unit against the wall. The hinges and door handles shouldn’t be cheaply made or flimsy; invest in materials that are hard wearing, so the budget saved is not spent replacing broken latches or rigid joint mechanisms.

- Style: fashion today becomes outdated tomorrow. There’s nothing worse that sweating for a DIY project that becomes stale. Hello Kitty is cute for your three-year-old niece’s bedroom decor, but to reveal your affinity for the pointy-eared, pink-bowed creature during your housewarming party is likely to leave your friends and family questioning your sanity. The same goes for selecting the colour of your cupboards; choose a shade that is subtle, and inviting, and that you won’t tire of or regret in the long run.

- Functionality: With the growing popularity of DIY household projects, there is an array of cupboard styles you can choose from that look good and suit your needs. Pulling trays for cutlery, a lazy Susan for that awkward corner cupboard, upright units with a high clearance for tall canisters, it fixed open shelving in lieu of closed doors are among the designs open to you